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McAuley Christmas card winning design 2018, Naimh Sansom

During the Christmas season, we use more lights as decorations than any other time of the year.  Candles, fireplaces, stars, lanterns and strings of lights adorn our trees, front gardens, roofs, windows, doors as well as inside our homes, to celebrate the coming of The Morning Star.

  Jesus called himself the Light of the World and then told us, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)

  During the month of December we saw and enjoyed, at McAuley Catholic High School, the way that our children, our students, sparkled and shone.

  Y11 Presentation Evening was the first time that we recognised the achievements of the class of 2018, which was held at St Peter in Chains Church.  Each student was presented with their GCSE certificates and there were individual subject prizes as well as the ‘Fr Mc’ Awards (in memory of Fr John McNamee) for services to our school community.  It was really nice to see the year group together again, but unsettling to see how much more grown up they now seem.

  Year 13 Drama students organised and performed in a show which would have graced the Royal Variety Performance, ‘The Not-so Christmassy Christmas Show’.  Students from Y7 onwards treated us to song and dance finishing with a somewhat surreal take on the nativity, featuring music from Madonna, Motorhead and the Benny Hill soundtrack!

  The following evening was a somewhat more cultured occasion as the Christmas Concert took place in the Acacia Hall, with very strong performances from Senior Band, Senior Orchestra, Junior Band and Junior Strings, Jazz Orchestra, Junior, Senior and Barbershop Vocal Groups, Brass Group, Chamber Orchestra and Chamber Vocal Group.  Sitting very close to the performers certainly allowed me to feel the energy that they generated – it crackled and sparked.

  In the last week before we broke up Polly, our lay chaplain, organised the delivery of over 50 hampers that form groups had put together to be delivered to the housebound and needy in our community.  There were also Services of Reconciliation supported by three of our local clergy.

  Hallam Young Chaplaincy Leaders raised money to create backpacks for the homeless in the diocese.  Six Year 8’s went to Sheffield for training in Catholic social teaching, working with charities around the country.  We also raised money for CAFOD.

  The final week of a full on first term reached a crescendo with the lighting of the third candle on our three Advent wreaths.  Year team Nativities took place and, on Monday and Tuesday, Y7 and Y8 had their own ‘Stars in their Eyes’ talent show, the same day as Christmas Jumper Day raised over £1500 and coincided with a very popular Christmas dinner.  Our sixth formers performed for all our support staff on Wednesday afternoon and the whole school worshipped and sang together as we finished our comprehensive preparations for Christmas on Thursday morning.

  It is always uplifting, inspiring and affirming to enjoy seeing our young people letting their light shine out.  Anything positive that they do when they push themselves to be the best version of themselves is reflecting the sparkle and shine of the glory of God.

John Rooney, Headteacher, McAuley Catholic High School, Doncaster